J: Taffy John Jenkins

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Taffy John Jenkins

Leicester's John Taffy Jenkins was one of the youngest wrestlers in the country when he began wrestling professionally in 1962. That first bout was against his friend Mick Collins, and both youngsters had been trained by Jack Taylor, wrestler and owner of International Promotions. He was just 14 years old at the time, and Jack Taylor put on a schoolboy match between John and Mick Collins in the cavernous Granby Halls, Leicester.  John and Mick didn't receive any pay for that match but he recalled to us that  they both benefited from the coins thrown into the ring by appreciative fans.

In the two years that followed Taffy and Mick travelled the country with Jack Taylor as they  learned the trade and repeated their bout as much as five or six times a week., ”In the meantime we had both left school and were working for Jack travelling around the country putting up the rings and wrestling at night time, taking down the ring and travelling home.”

As he grew in size and experience Jack put Taffy on with more experienced wrestlers, including Eddie Capelli, Ken Joyce, Cyril Knowles, Eric Sands, Reg Ray, Spike O'Reiily,  Brian Maxine, Johnny Saint, and many, many more. We saw him in action for the first time in 1965, wrestling a fast and furious eight round draw against Doncaster’s Earl McCready, who was the son of Dai Sullivan.
In his late teens Taffy  attracted the attention of Joint Promotions through an introduction by  Pete and John Lapaque. During his  time with Joint Promotions Taffy  wrestled all over the country and came up against all the top men at the time including Jackie Pallo (6 times), Pete Roberts, Rollerball Rocco, John Naylor, Marty Jones, Alan Sergeant, Catweazle, Johnny Czeslaw, Tally ho Kaye, Bert Royal, Vic Faulkner, Alan Dennison,Alan Kilby,John Kowalski and many, many more.

Never losing his love for wrestling John did become disillusioned that the promoters' respect for him as a worker did not lead to television appearances, “I was just a really good worker but without an image I was never destined to become aTV star or a top of the bill attraction.”

John took a sabbatical from wrestling during which he  joined the Leicestershire Constabulary whilst having a young wife and a new baby.  He stayed in the job for four years and  then returned to the ring working for Brian Dixon.

Taffy drifted out of wrestling in the mid 1990s, but that wasn't the end of the story. He returned to the ring in 2005, and had his final match three years later, at sixty years of age!

In his later years John and his wife, Sheila, were enthusiastic bowls players. He was at various times President, Secretary and Competition Secretary of Birstall Bowling Club as well as President of Bowls Leicestershire (Men's section) and Chair of the Board of Bowls Leicestershire.

John “Taffy” Jenkins died on 21st April, 2020 following a car crash. Former wrestler Neil Kemp said: “You were a good friend and confidante back in the day - the days we all lived in Leicester and lit up the Granby Halls. I shall always remember you.”

Page added 22/04/2020

Reviewed 14/04/2022